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Dear Dumb Diary #10: The Worst Things in Life Are Also Free

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Dear Dumb Diary #10: The Worst Things in Life Are Also Free

  The Worst Things in Life

  are Also Free

  From New York Times bestselling author Jim Benton



  r Dum



  The Worst Things in Life

  Are Also Free

  Think you can handle

  Jamie Kelly’s FIrst year of diaries?

  #1 Let’s pretend this never happened

  #2 My pants are haunted!

  #3 Am I the Princess or the Frog?

  #4 never do anything, ever

  #5 can adults become human?

  #6 the problem with here is that it's where i'm from

  #7 Never Underestimate your dumbness

  #8 It’s Not My Fault I Know Everything

  #9 That’s What Friends Aren't For

  #10 The worst things in life are also free

  #11 Okay, So Maybe I Do Have Superpowers

  #12 Me! (Just Like You, Only Better)

  And don’t miss year two!

  Year Two #1: School. Hasn’t This Gone On Long Enough?

  Year Two #2: The Super-nice Are Super-annoying

  Year Two #3: Nobody's Perfect. I'm as Close As It Gets.

  Year Two #4: What I Don’t Know Might Hurt Me



  r Dum



  The Worst Things in Life

  Are Also Free


  Jim Benton’s Tales from Mackerel Middle School

  All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Con-

  ventions. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted,

  downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced

  into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by

  any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereafter

  invented, without the express written permission of the publisher. For

  information regarding permission, write to Scholastic Inc., Attention:

  Permissions Department, 557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012.

  e-ISBN 978 -0 -545-34758-7

  Copyright © 2010 by Jim Benton

  All rights reserved. Published by Scholastic Inc.

  SCHOLASTIC and associated logos are trademarks

  and/or registered trademarks of Scholastic Inc.

  DEAR DUMB DIARY is a registered trademark of Jim Benton.

  First printing, June 2010

  For Janet, Jerry, Patrick, and Kristin

  Special thanks to Kristen LeClerc and the

  team at Scholastic: Steve Scott, Elizabeth

  Krych, Susan Jeffers, Anna Bloom, and

  Shannon Penney.

  Dear Whoever Is Reading My Dumb Diary,

  So I suppose you think it’s okay to just

  pick up somebody’s diary and read it

  absolutely free of charge?

  Well, it isn’t. Things cost money in this

  world, cupcake, and if you want to read

  this diary, it’s going to cost you. Have a

  look at our handy price list:



  People: Five million dollars

  Parents: Four million dollars (apiece)

  Isabella: One million dollars

  (non - counterfeit, and no offense,

  Isabella, but I’ll need to have somebody

  at the bank check it out first)

  Blond individuals: One arm and one

  leg. Plus five million dollars. Plus another

  five million dollars.

  Thank you for shopping with us today!


  P.S. Prices are PER WORD.

  P.P.S. Except you, Angeline. For you, it’s



  Sunday 01

  Dear Dumb Diary,

  Sometimes teachers think it’s okay to teach

  things to kids, and they are proven wrong. Like a

  little earlier this year, in science, when we were each

  assigned a disease to study. The diseases were

  written on little slips of paper, and we chose them

  by grabbing them at random out of a bag.


  Angeline, of course, unfairly got the

  BUBONIC PLAGUE, which is like the most popular

  disease EVER. I was assigned SUNBURN, which

  I complained wasn’t even really a disease. I asked

  for DIAPER RASH instead because that’s sort of

  the cutest disease, but then the teacher said no

  and that I’d just have to pull another one at random

  out of a bag. I was afraid I might get FAT BUTT or

  something like that, although now that I think about

  it, I’m not sure that Fat Buttedness is a medical

  condition. Anyway, I decided to just shut up and

  live with sunburn.

  Angeline offered to give me the plague, but I

  didn’t want anybody’s charity, you know?


  The REAL problem here was that Isabella

  picked this condition called


  , which is

  not as famous as the bubonic plague, but believe

  me — more people have had it. Neurapraxia is the

  scientific name for that tingle when your arm or leg

  falls asleep. It does not have the horrible and gory

  symptoms that Isabella had hoped for (I can’t

  remember them all because Isabella was laughing

  too hard while she was listing them), but Isabella

  seemed satisfied that left untreated, neurapraxia

  could become the kind of illness she could love.

  So we all researched our diseases, and finally

  the day came when some of us were supposed to

  stand in front of the class and bore each other with

  our reports. We had a substitute the day Isabella

  was scheduled to give her report. I know that

  teachers think it’s okay to be absent sometimes,

  but they are wrong about that, too.


  Isabella stood up and began slowly and

  carefully describing neurapraxia, and how standing

  up and moving the limb seems to clear it up. But

  then she began to talk about various other gross

  things that could happen to you if your neurapraxia

  went on too long, and you couldn’t get the symptoms

  to go away, or if you got it in your brain, maybe

  from a tight hat, or a pillow that was too soft or too

  warm or not soft enough. And believe me: Isabella is

  very fluent in gross. She can stretch the word “pus”

  into three syllables.

  About five minutes into her report, just

  as everybody was totally sick to their stomachs,

  Isabella pulled out a test tube that she took from

  the lab where her dad works. She said that they had

  discovered a contagious form of neurapraxia

  and that what she had was a REAL TEST TUBE

  full of it.


  The substitute teacher thought Isabella

  was joking, and didn’t think it was a funny joke at

  that. She told Isabella to put the tube back in her

  backpack. Teachers also think it’s okay to assume

p; that Isabella is always just joking about things, and

  they are wrong about this as well. She isn’t always


  When Isabella went to reach for her bag, she

  accidentally dropped the tube and it broke open.

  I’ve never seen Isabella look so frightened. In just a

  couple seconds, she started to twitch and foam

  dribbled out of her mouth.

  By the time Isabella hit the floor, Mike

  Pinsetti was in a full shrieking panic, running

  into the halls and screaming, “EVACUATE THE



  This got the whole class freaked out and

  everyone ran out of the room, because, frankly,

  nobody is really sure what Isabella is capable of.

  Other teachers, hearing Pinsetti’s shrill feminine

  screams, assumed it was coming from the mouth of

  a woman (like a teacher) and did the safe thing —

  they marched the kids out of the school. They

  kind of have to do this, because I think their pay

  depends on how many kids are alive at the end of

  each school year.

  Angeline and I know that Isabella’s dad

  doesn’t work in a lab, and we’ve seen Isabella

  dribble foam from her mouth before. So when the

  ambulance guys and police officers came in about

  forty -five minutes later, they found me and Angeline

  and Isabella in the classroom playing cards.


  By that time, Isabella had wiped the saliva

  froth off her chin, but they still didn’t believe her

  when she tried to convince them that I was Isabella.

  She’s a masterful liar, but Isabella is not unknown

  to the police.

  Then she explained what happened. She

  told the police that the teacher gave us a disease

  assignment. It was supposed to have visual aids,

  and we were supposed to dramatically

  communicate just how our disease works.

  Isabella said she tried to talk our teacher out of it,

  since she feared this exact thing might happen —

  Isabella is just so naturally good at convincing

  people of things like diseases. Isabella told them

  that our substitute teacher was stubborn and

  insisted we do it this way, and that she also said a

  lot of suspicious things that struck Isabella as being

  very anti-cop.

  Angeline and I nodded in agreement as Isabella

  talked. Not agreement to the anti-cop part, or even

  the tried -to -talk -her-out- of -it part. Also not the

  visual aids or dramatically communicating part. We

  were nodding in agreement that Mrs. Palmer, the

  science teacher, had given us an assignment.


  Of course, by that time they had evacuated

  the school as a precaution, and sent everyone

  home. That would have been great except for one

  thing: If your school loses too many days during

  the year, like for weather, or power outages, or fake

  neurapraxia- C outbreaks, you have to make it up at

  the end of the year. Isabella put us one day over the

  line. So even though the last day of school

  was supposed to be Friday, now it’s tomorrow.

  (Oh, by the way, this is neat. I saw that

  substitute last week. She mows lawns for a living

  now. And she looks a lot happier than she did

  back when she was a sub and was running out of

  the school.)


  Monday 02

  Dear Dumb Diary,

  It’s finally the last day of school! I

  always think that nobody in the whole world could

  be any happier than I am about it, but then I see

  grins on the faces of teachers that I didn’t think

  even had grin muscles.

  I used to wonder why teachers were the only

  adults that got three- month vacations, but now

  I know it’s because they’re the only adults that

  deserve them. They probably don’t do cool things

  like hang out at the beach, though. I think they

  spend the full three months in an insane asylum to

  prepare for the next year. That’s why you never see

  teachers looking all teachery at amusement parks

  or the beach or anything. They’re locked up

  somewhere, taking special tests with number

  two pencils.


  We had a little end- of-the- year party today.

  It was one of those healthy - type parties, so they

  served beautiful and delicious fruits and vegetables

  for us to reject.

  We also had to clean out our lockers. I don’t

  know exactly how much a locker is supposed to

  hold, but I know this — it can hold even more

  than that.

  I had clothes in there that are no longer in

  fashion, a bottle of Platinum Aqua glitter — please,

  nobody at my level uses that color anymore — and

  then I found a peach. I remembered exactly where it

  was from.

  Many, many diaries ago, there was an

  incident involving a peach rolling out of my lunch

  bag. Mike Pinsetti attemped to nickname me

  “Peach Girl“ as a result. I have no idea why he

  thought that was a clever nickname, but nicknames

  can be pretty horrible unless you invent them for

  yourself, like I’m pretty sure Captain Excellent

  might have done — although he insists he didn’t.



  At the time, I just grabbed the peach and

  stuck it back in my lunch bag. It sat in its brown,

  papery tomb until today, when I pulled it out.

  Note to self: NEVER determine the

  contents of an old lunch bag by sticking your

  nose into it and sniffing. Here’s why: Right after I

  did, Hudson walked past and I wanted to say, “Hey,

  Hudson, big plans for the summer?” But what I

  actually said was, “Hey, Hudtin, bib pan por duh

  tummah?” Then I had to stand there listening to his

  reply with my nostrils full of the fruit

  flies I had inhaled a few moments

  earlier. I was faced with this horrible choice:

  BLOW BUGS OUT OF MY NOSE in front of the

  eighth - cutest boy in my grade, or snurf them up so

  deep in my sinuses that they could never, ever escape.


  Isabella, being my best friend in the world,

  decided to cover for me and/or rob me by quickly

  swooping in and grabbing the bag out of my hand.

  She caused enough of a distraction for me to

  secretly blow my nose on a social studies report I

  had spent two weeks writing. (Sorry, People of


  Isabella pulled out the peach and held it up

  in her hand: a stinky, gray, withered little sphere

  with dents and creases and patches of fuzz here

  and there.

  “I love this,” she said in a passionate whisper.

  “Can I have it?”

  “Yeds, fide,” I said, still a bit congested from

  my infestation. “Tage it. Ids all yours. You dode hab

  to share it wid eddybody.”

  Isabella waggled the peachish thing in

  Hudson’s face. “All mine,” she said.


/>   It’s always such a joy walking out of school at

  the end of the year —no more homework, no more

  school lunches, no more boredom.

  Here are just some of the things I’m going

  to do this summer.



  Tuesday 03

  Dear Dumb Diary,

  Okay, I couldn’t sleep in today. I tried, but

  I think school programmed me to wake up at a

  certain time because I’ve been doing it all year.

  Tomorrow I’ll sleep in, you’ll see. I’ll sleep in until

  noon or 1:00 p.m. Maybe I won’t even get out of bed

  all day. It will be like I’m this girl who just luxuriates

  in bed all day because she is fabulously wealthy or

  horribly ill. It will be great.


  I had planned to become a vegetarian this

  summer, but Dad made bacon this morning, so I

  decided to become a vegetarian by lunchtime. That

  also didn’t work out, because Mom and I got

  hamburgers at the drive-thru.

  I think a lot of people, like me, love animals

  in both ways —with all of our hearts, and with all of

  our teeth as well. It’s just so difficult not to eat

  their adorable little delicious bodies.

  I’ll bet I could run a very successful farm by

  just raising mean, cranky animals that nobody

  would mind eating. It would be like: “Would you like

  to try the T-bone steak tonight? He trampled four

  children one day.” “Oh yes, that sounds delicious.

  And for an appetizer, I wonder if you have any

  chicken wings from birds that tried to peck

  somebody in the face?”


  At dinner tonight, I talked a little about

  my summer plans. Mom and Dad made their

  “expensive” face at every one of my ideas. I

  don’t know how they do it, but they have a way of

  tilting their heads and twisting their eyebrows as if

  to say, “That Costs Too Much,” without ever

  actually opening their mouths. It’s like living with a

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